March 27, 2009


The Coming Democratic Civil War: Control of the president’s liberal-leaning agenda has been snatched by centrist Democrats in the Senate. They may just save his presidency. (John Avlon, 3/27/09, Daily Beast)

The most important debate in Washington today isn’t happening between Democrats and Republicans—it’s happening between centrist Democrats and liberal Democrats. Not just the budget, but control of congress in the 2010 elections could hang in the balance.

Late last week, 16 Democratic senators declared independence by forming a new centrist caucus. Led by Indiana’s Evan Bayh, Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln and Delaware’s Tom Carper, the group includes senators from every region and some of the party’s rising stars, including Virginia’s Mark Warner and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill. Together, their numbers are more than sufficient to deny liberals a rubber-stamp majority in the Senate. The center is flexing its muscle and now holds the balance of power. [...]

We’ve seen this movie before. A charismatic new Democrat president blessed with unified control of Congress gets his legs cut out from under him when the electorate decides that the combined package is more liberal than they’d like.

Americans actually like the checks and balances of divided government—that’s why we’ve voted for it almost two-thirds of the time since 1955. And Obama’s job is made more difficult by the fact that he is trying to create a durable center-left coalition is what is essentially a center-right nation.

Committed liberals hate hearing that last point, but consider the facts: Exit polls in 2008 showed that 44 percent of American voters are self-described moderates, while 34 percent call themselves conservatives and 22 percent describe themselves as liberal. These numbers were basically unchanged from four years before. Obama managed to win not just 90 percent of liberals, but 60 percent of moderates and 20 percent of conservatives, building bridges across partisan divides to win virtually all the swing states in the nation. That brought his victory total to 28 states, compared to Reagan’s first-term 44-state win in 1980 and Bill Clinton’s 32 states in 1992. President Obama has a mandate to govern from the center, not the far-left.

So here's a question for you: given what an embarrassment the Obama presidency has already turned into, how long until we start hearing that he's not really black?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 27, 2009 8:01 AM
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